By Mary Stanley, PR and
Marketing Coordinator, Mary Stanley
“Siblings – the definition that comprises love, strife, competition and forever friends” – Byron Pulsifer
There is no question that the bond between siblings is a special one. They are the link to our past and the ones most likely to be with us in the future. Who else but a sister or brother has known us from our very youngest self to our present? We cheered for them, shared our secrets with them, celebrated with them and grieved with them. We have seen them at their best and their worst. Siblings are the people we teased and fought with as children and then made up with; they are the people we protected and defended, because they were, above all else, family.
Oftentimes, our siblings are our first friends. Do you remember playing hide and seek with your brothers and sisters or building a tent made of blankets in the family room? Your siblings most likely played an integral part in your development and in shaping the person you are today.
Being the sibling of a child with intellectual and developmental disabilities certainly has an impact on the dynamics of the relationship. Researchers are learning, however, that with some of the challenges that come with being the sibling of a person with disabilities also come some great opportunities and benefits. According to PsychCentral, psychologists used to assume that having a child with a disability at home was damaging to the other members of the family. Though there is some stress associated with such a relationship, it can have a powerfully positive impact on the non-disabled sibling. “It can lead instead to creative problem solving and personal growth. Children who have disabled siblings can gain a greater appreciation of the value of different kinds of people and become more understanding of human differences.”
According to Psychology Today, the difficult circumstance of having a brother or sister with disabilities may also have some positive outcomes. “These siblings often develop certain positive characteristics such as self-control, cooperation, empathy, tolerance, altruism, maturity, and responsibility as a result of dealing with their family situation. They may develop loyalty and a protective attitude towards their sibling. In some cases these siblings use someone’s attitude about special needs as a test for screening friends and mates. Their involvement with their sibling may even lead them to choose future occupations in the helping professions.”
In June, we celebrated Siblings Day at New England Village, and as in the past, it proved to be one of the happiest days here for our residents. From working on art projects together to just visiting with one another, the day was filled with love, laughter, and friendship. After all, there is nothing better than spending the day with a brother or sister, the one who knows and loves you best.
We invite you to tell us about a special memory of your sibling or to share with us how having a sibling with a disability impacted your life.